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ROUNDUP OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT NEWS IN THE NATIONAL NEWSPAPERS

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BLAIR TO STAND DOWN AS LEADER 'ON MAY 31 2007'...
BLAIR TO STAND DOWN AS LEADER 'ON MAY 31 2007'

The prime minister will stand down as Labour leader on 31 May next year and formally go on 26 July, claims The Sun (pg1).

However his resignation could be brought forward by one week if the Scottish and Welsh elections bring disastrous results, the newspaper adds.

Some Labour party officials and MPs have privately expressed fears that Labour seats will be jeopardised if Mr Blair leads the party into the next local elections.

LOCAL AUTHORITIES FACE PRESSURE OVER CHILDREN IN CARE

The government will clamp down on local authorities that fail to provide the right help for children in care, reports The Guardian (pg11).

Prime minister Tony Blair raised this prospect in a speech he delivered on social exclusion yesterday (see LGCnet).

He added that professionals responsible for children would receive more resources, and contraception would be more easily available to prevent teenage pregnancies.

Health visitors might spend as long as two years carrying out regular checks on children who are identified from birth as being at risk of offending in later life, Mr Blair also said, but denied that this initiative was a form of 'baby Asbo'.

A more detailed action plan will be published next week.

TORIES DEMAND RELAXED RULES TO ALLOW WIDER VARIETY OF SCHOOLS

The Conservatives will publish plans today to make it easier for independent groups to set up state-funded schools, reports The Times (pg11).

Under the proposals, more schools would be run by religious or other charities, groups of parents, Montessori or Steiner schools, or business.

Shadow education secretary David Willets will say that the plans would deliver more choice to parents but current tax and planning regulations, and approval criteria for new schools, made it difficult for such schools to get off the ground.

RESIDENTS LOBBY FOR CRUISE LINER TERMINAL ON THE THAMES

A community group is lobbying the London mayor to back plans for a cruise liner terminal on the Thames, reports The Daily Telegraph (B8).

The group wants the Greater London Authority to reject plans for a multimillion pound housing and retail development at the former News International newsprint centre opposite Canary Wharf, and back the terminal instead.

The group - Convoys Opportunity - has been trying to get support for the past six years. It said it was mounting a renewed campaign now on the back of London's 2012 Olympics win.

CENTER PARCS CHALLENGES COUNCIL'S PLANNING REJECTION

Center Parcs UK is attempting to overturn a decision by a council to refuse an application to build a new holiday park on the Woburn Estate, reports The Times (pg56).

The chair of the Mid Beds DC's planning committee used his casting vote to reject the application.

Center Parcs believes it has a strong enough case to refer its plans to the environment secretary.

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